Wellington, Fla. – March 10, 2019 – Another Sunday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center hosted another full day of equitation competition during Week Nine of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). In Section B of the ASPCA Maclay, Katy Merchant topped the leaderboard on Captain Krutzmann, while Maggie Hill and Eclipse rode away with the win in Section A of the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal.
In Section B of the ASPCA Maclay, 31 junior riders tackled a course of twists and turns with jumps set towards the center of the ring, challenging horses and riders’ control and connection. Starting with a vertical-to-vertical rollback set parallel to the judge’s booth, riders had the opportunity to showcase their style before a balancing three-stride line up the center of the ring, ending with a vertical-oxer combination. Riders then galloped around the corner to a large single oxer, counting seven strides to a vertical.
After taking a breath, exhibitors continued to be challenged with another vertical-oxer one-stride to a four-stride barrel vertical that caught some horses off guard. The course ended with a bending line of nine strides that gave riders the opportunity to display their patience and position for the judge before finishing their round.
At the conclusion of the over fences round, 12 riders were invited back by judge Ken Smith for further testing on the flat. Smith asked for a sitting trot in both directions as well as a trot to canter transition. Emerging at the top of the group following both phases of competition was Merchant aboard her horse Captain Krutzmann, a 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Second place was Alexandra Pielet aboard the Co-Pielet LLC’s 13-year-old gelding Common Sense. Rounding out the top three was Molly Dailey on Henge Hill Investment’s 15-year old Holsteiner gelding, Centerfold K.
Immediately following Section B of the ASPCA Maclay was Section A of the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, where the course was reversed but challenges weren’t. Competitors were asked to calmly steer through a track of tight turns and obstacles that came up quickly out of the corners. Riders cantered nine strides to a vertical followed by a rollback up the center of the ring that set them up for the four strides to an oxer-vertical combination. After tackling an airy bamboo vertical that divided the ring and the second half of the course, riders counted seven strides to an oxer. The course then took the riders up the center of the ring again for a vertical-oxer one-stride to the balancing three-stride line going home. After rolling back on the brush covered vertical plank jump, riders finished with a single oxer off of a short turn coming home.
The top four ranked riders returned in ascending order for the required testing, which asked riders to canter fence one, rollback on obstacle seven (a double combination), counter-canter fence nine, trot fence eight, canter fence six and finish with two changes of lead down the quarter line going towards the ingate. Although she was called back in the fourth place position and had to test first, Hill’s confident yet effortless riding catapulted her to first place aboard North Run’s Eclipse. In second was Sophia Pilla on her 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, Campino. Third place went to Taylor Griffiths on Geddaway Farm’s 11-year-old mare, Bella Vida. Emma Wujek on Nevergreen Farm LLC’s 11 year old gelding, Colando, rounded out the top four of the tested riders.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Katy Merchant – ASPCA Maclay (Section B) winner
On Captain Krutzmann:
“My horse was awesome and he felt really loose. The flat is our biggest challenge because he would rather not go around like a Maclay horse but he felt great today. I’m so happy!”
On the course:
“I think the course was really good. There was a lot of twisting and turning, which suited my horse well. He’s so game for anything.”
On her plans for the rest of WEF:
“I’m so excited to be doing the George Morris Excellence in Equitation class.”
Maggie Hill – Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal (Section A) winner
“My horse is always wonderful, it’s just about getting me right — he’s always perfect! He was trained by North Run and was ridden by Ava Stearns for five years so he’s done everything. We just started leasing him this year and he’s amazing.”
On the course:
“I really like that it was different than how the courses normally are. I liked that there were a lot of rollbacks so it could show the rider and horse’s talents. I also liked the test because we got to demonstrate certain parts of the course that suited my horse and I.”
On her plans for the rest of WEF:
“I’m finally qualified for the George Morris Excellence in Equitation class! Today was my first time qualifying for the class and this is my first year doing the big equitation so there’s a lot to look forward to.”
ASPCA Maclay (Section B):
1. Katy Merchant / Captain Krutzmann
2. Alexandra Pielet / Common Sense
3. Molly Dailey / Centerfold K
4. Hensley Humphries / Imaginator
5. Kathryn McCarthy / Cool De Reve
6. Chloe Doherty / C’est La Vie
7. Lielle Rhodes / Carry Away
8. Nora Andrews / Vagrant Z
Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal (Section A):
1. Maggie Hill / Eclipse
2. Sophia Pilla / Campino
3. Taylor Griffiths / Bella Vida
4. Colando / Emma Mujek
5. Tessa Brown / Davide
6. Kaitlyn Lovingfoss / Munich
7. Lielle Rhodes / Carry Way
8. Sophee Steckbeck / Crossbow